Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) “has filed for divorce from his wife, Maureen, his one-time co-defendant in a tawdry corruption trial that exposed their marital woes and tarnished his political legacy before the U.S. Supreme Court tossed out his conviction,” the Washington Post reports.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren called President Trump an “accelerant” to a corrupt system in her first interview since she announced she is exploring a 2020 presidential run, NBC News reports.
Said Warren: “Donald Trump is an accelerant. He takes a problem that has just been growing and growing and growing and he just sets it off. And makes it worse than it ever was.”
George Packer: “The corruption I mean has less to do with individual perfidy than institutional depravity. It isn’t an occasional failure to uphold norms, but a consistent repudiation of them. It isn’t about dirty money so much as the pursuit and abuse of power—power as an end in itself, justifying almost any means. Political corruption usually trails financial scandals in its wake—the foam is scummy with self-dealing—but it’s far more dangerous than graft. There are legal remedies for Duncan Hunter, the defeated representative from California, who will stand trial next year for using campaign funds to pay for family luxuries. But there’s no obvious remedy for what the state legislatures of Wisconsin and Michigan, following the example of North Carolina in 2016, are now doing.”
“Multiple witnesses in the trial of Rep. Robert Brady’s (D-PA) former campaign strategist have implicated the congressman for conspiring to commit campaign finance crimes, recasting the spotlight on his past alleged corruption,” Roll Call reports.
“Brady, a longtime Philadelphia Democrat who is retiring in at the end of his 11th term in January, allegedly conspired with his former campaign strategists, Ken Smukler and Donald “D.A.” Jones, to pay a 2012 Democratic primary challenger $90,000 for him to exit the race.”
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Former Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) “was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison Wednesday for a wide-ranging scheme that included spying on a potential GOP rival and misspending charitable contributions from conservative donors,” the Houston Chronicle reports.
“A political expert who has monitored Stockman’s political trajectory likened the right-wing firebrand’s downfall to that of President Richard Nixon, who was also disgraced for spying on opponents and covering up payoffs and other financial misdeeds.”
“A federal judge on Tuesday will sentence a former mayor of Allentown, Pennsylvania, who was convicted of bribery and related crimes that prosecutors said he carried out to finance an abortive run for the U.S. Senate,” Reuters reports.
“Ed Pawlowski was convicted on March 1 of 47 counts related to pay-to-play schemes in which he solicited kickbacks from prospective city contractors.”
Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) opened up to WSYR-TV about how FBI agents made an early morning visit to his home earlier this year.
Said Collins: “That was the shock of all shocks, to have two agents at your door at 6 a.m. saying they just want to talk.”
For more than an hour, Collins said he “shared everything from A to Z” and then the agents hit him with a bombshell: “At the end of it all, they said, ‘Oh, by the way, we have a subpoena for you.'”
“The criminal indictment issued against Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret, last month alleges years of cavalier spending — luxury resorts, fine dining, tequila shots and more — all paid for with political contributions,” the San Diego Union Tribune reports.
The 47-page document also says Hunter had “personal relationships” with five unnamed individuals.
Defense attorney Gregory Vega objected: “While there may be evidence of infidelity, irresponsibility or alcohol dependence, once properly understood, the underlying facts do not equate to criminal activity.”
“Federal prosecutors offered Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) a plea deal before indicting him on felony insider trading charges earlier this month, but the Republican from Clarence rejected it,” the Buffalo News reports.
“Criminal lawyers who are not involved in the case said, though, that they were not surprised that prosecutors sought to get Collins to settle the charges against him. They said they wouldn’t be surprised, either, if Collins and the other defendants in the case eventually plead guilty before the case goes to trial.”
Said Hunter: “Leave my wife out of it, leave my family out of it. It’s me they’re after anyway. They’re not after my wife; they want to take me down, that’s what they’re up to. So let’s get this in the arena and have this settled.”
“Rep. Duncan Hunter’s (R-CA) legal defense is coming from the same campaign coffers he and his wife are accused of misusing, so far amounting to more than $600,000 for the lawyers,” Roll Call reports.
“Federal Election Commission filings show Hunter’s campaign made payments for ‘legal services’ or ‘legal fees’ to eight different law firms in excess of $600,000 during the 2018 election cycle. This includes disbursements of $182,000 to the San Diego-based law firm Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek, which is representing Hunter in the grand jury investigation. The five-term GOP incumbent and his wife were indicted for allegedly using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use.”
President Trump urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “look into all of the corruption on the ‘other side’” after the attorney general disputed Trump’s assertion a day earlier that Sessions had failed to take control of the Department of Justice, ABC News reports.
New York Times: “Mr. Trump listed people and political enemies who he believes deserve the attention of the Justice Department, including the targets of conservative conspiracy theories that claim the Russia investigation was motivated by politics.”
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) “seemed to shift any blame onto his wife, Margaret, on Thursday for alleged campaign fund abuses, saying she was the one handling his finances,” CNN reports.
Said Hunter: “She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did that’ll be looked at too, I’m sure. But I didn’t do it. I didn’t spend any money illegally.”
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) told KGTV that he’s innocent of accusations of campaign funding misuse one day after he and his wife Margaret were indicted by a federal grand jury.
Said Hunter: “We’re excited about going to trial with this, frankly. This is modern politics and modern media mixed in with law enforcement that has a political agenda. That’s the new Department of Justice.”
He added: “Let them expose themselves for what they are: a politically motivated group of folks.”
Mike Allen: “Corruption instantly becomes a centerpiece issue in the midterm campaigns — a huge new weight for Republicans in marginal races.”
Said a top GOP guru: “The Republican Party looks like a criminal enterprise.”
Playbook: “Two House Republicans have been indicted this month. Democrats — who were looking to turn this into a ‘corruption’ election — are feeling good at the moment.”
James Hohmann: “Democrats see an opportunity to revive the ‘culture of corruption’ message that helped them win the House in 2006. Nancy Pelosi repeated almost the identical talking points on Wednesday that she used 12 years ago to link GOP candidates to Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramoff and Mark Foley.”
Said Pelosi: “The charges against Congressman Collins show the rampant culture of corruption and self-enrichment among Republicans in Washington today. The American people deserve better than the GOP’s corruption, cronyism and incompetence.”
John Cassidy: “It’s not clear yet how Gates’s testimony will affect the outcome of the trial, in which Manafort is charged with tax evasion, bank fraud, and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. But his time on the witness stand provided an invaluable public lesson in how tax evasion, money laundering, and political corruption work.”
“The importance of these phenomena goes well beyond this trial, and also beyond the special counsel Robert Mueller’s broader inquiry into Russia’s activities during the 2016 election. (Among other things, Mueller is widely believed to be looking into whether Donald Trump and his Presidential campaign had any surreptitious financial ties to Russian interests.) The ability of rich people such as Manafort and his oligarchic clients to shuffle money across borders, beyond the purview of tax collectors and law-enforcement authorities, is a huge and intractable problem. In many places, these practices are denuding tax bases, corrupting a large class of professional enablers, and undermining public confidence in the political and financial systems.”